To say that the life of the average Ethiopian athlete is challenging is an understatement. Global news stories of big race winners, Olympic medallists, record breakers and high prize money garner widespread attention in the media and influence tremendously the world’s impression of countries like Ethiopia and Kenya. However, it is not necessary to delve slightly deeper to realise that not only those successful few that we hear about, but thousands of others who train alongside them, have made huge sacrifices and taken big risks by committing to elite athletics.

Most elite Ethiopian athletes hail from humble rural backgrounds. Most drop out of school in their early teens, sometimes moving to a larger town or city to pursue the sport. They usually have few (if any) urban connections and thus a weak or non-existent support network. Even fulfilling basic sporting needs are a huge challenge for them. These needs include being nurtured and encouraged by a professional coach, affording transportation to the wide variety of training locations, adequate housing, optimal nutrition, suitable clothing (especially affordable running shoes), regular massage… the list is long.

On top of this, many women athletes come to depend on men for day-to-day bread winning and house rent. Indeed, even if they do meet all or most of their immediate needs, the vast majority of athletes who do not make it to the lucrative international racing circuit must eventually fall back on low-skilled, low-paying jobs.

Run Africa addresses as many of these problems as possible by combining our business side – personalised athletics training, hiking and tourism packages – with professional and personal skills development for the members of our athletics club, Run Africa AC. In addition to promoting their success in races, the club also creates a supportive, close-knit community for our athletes. It is a platform from which we try to diversify and broaden their personal and professional skills.

We strive to achieve this by working with people of diverse skill sets to give structured training and mentoring in sports coaching, life planning and goal setting, massage, first aid, English language and other core skills.

In turn, Run Africa Club members participate in community development by giving motivational talks and demonstrations in schools. This provides students with a broadened understanding of athletics and training, inspiring them to take up athletics.

The ultimate goal of Run Africa’s social contribution is to produce athletes who are educated, independent and successful in their lives, and who thereby feel fulfilled and motivated to contribute the most that they can to society. If you are interested in supporting our work with any kind of donation, sponsorship or patronage, please contact us.